"I told my spouse I'd definitely be fired during my banking career"
I have spent over two decades working in US investment banks; during that time I have both been fired myself and I have hired people who have been fired.
When you work in financial services, this is something you must expect. And it's something you must prepare the people around you for. Very early in my career, I had a conversation with my wife and her told that I would be fired one day. It's standard in this industry.
My wife was prepared, but it doesn't make it any easier when it happens. In banking, you are most likely to be subject to a RiF [reduction in force] when you're very junior or very senior. But as you become more senior, you forget this and start to presume that it won't happen to you. Be warned that it will, especially if you've been at the same place for a long time.
When you're RiFFed as a junior banker, it can be hard: you don't have the contacts or the experience to differentiate you from all the new graduates entering the industry. This doesn't mean you should give up: finance is filled with people who struggled at the start of their careers; it's a rite of passage.
If you're RiFFed as a more senior banker, your response can define the course of your career. If you've come from a top tier bank, you will get offers from second and third tier banks that want to hire you. If you can afford to do so, you must ignore them. I've seen a lot of people make that kind of move down the pyramid, thinking they can get back in after a few months. But climbing back up is not easy.
Instead of chasing any job that's out there, it makes sense for senior bankers to either sit out of the market or do something tangential until the right offer comes along.
In either case, whether you're junior or senior, no one will blame you for being fired. Unless the market is absolutely booming, your performance will not be a consideration; it was simply your turn.
And if, after being fired, you're through with the finance industry? You have plenty of options. Even traders have plenty of transferable skills - they can assimilate a vast amount of information quickly and made decisions, and they can do that for 12 hours a day. People in banking work at a much faster pace than people in other industries, and their skills are valuable across the economy.
Fabian Reid is the pseudonym of a managing director at a US bank in London
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